Indira Gandhi, (late) Prime Minister of India, on 25th March 1969:
Pondicherry was Sri Aurobindo’s place of political exile and spiritual unfolding. His effulgent message radiated to different parts of the world from Pondicherry. It is appropriate that seekers of enlightenment from various lands should found a new city there bearing Sri Aurobindo’s name. It is an exciting project for bringing about harmony among different cultures and for understanding the environmental needs for man’s spiritual growth. May Auroville truly become a city of light and of peace.
P.V. Narasimha Rao
P.V. Narasimha Rao, then Minister for Human Resource Development, and former Prime Minister of India, during his visit to Auroville on 23rd August 1986:
I don’t know why we are calling Auroville an experiment; it is life, it is a part of life, it ought to be a part of life, but now that we have gone back and started calling it an experiment, let’s make it a success.
P. Shiv Shanker
P. Shiv Shanker, former Minister for Human Resource Development, while introducing the Auroville Foundation Bill in September 1988 in Parliament:
Auroville is to be looked upon as a vision which has a great potentiality, and this can be of tremendous service to our country and the world at large. The aim of Auroville is to discover a new life, deeper and more complete, and to show the world that tomorrow will be better than today. The Government is determined to help the process of development of Auroville in such a way that its aims and goals are made more and more realisable.
D.S. Meshram, Chief Planner, Town & Country Planning Organisation, Ministry of Urban Development, Govt. of India, in a letter after visiting Auroville in May 2000:
We appreciate the efforts of Auroville towards the innovative approaches adopted in recycling water, recharging of ground water, rehabilitation of water bodies, use of solar energy and biogas, regeneration of waste land, afforestation, plantation etc.”
Dr. Karan Singh
Dr. Karan Singh, appointed by the Central Government as Chairman of the first Governing Board of the Auroville Foundation, in his speech to the residents of Auroville on 28th February 1991:
Auroville was envisaged by the Mother as a concrete manifestation of the new consciousness, as an arrow pointed towards the future of evolution. And that is why Auroville is so extremely significant for the future of the human race. Never forget it is not only important to those who happen to live here. Certainly you are important, because it is you Aurovilians who are doing the work and making the experiment, but your work far transcends barriers of space and nationality and even of time. Because what is sought to be done here is nothing less than the transmutation of consciousness.
Address by Mr.S.K. Tripathi, Education Secretary, Government of India, at the 35th Anniversary Celebrations of Auroville, in Paris, 10 April 2003:
President of the General conference,
Members of the Executive Board,
Members of the Indian community,
Ladies and Gentlemen
At the outset, I would like to express our sincere gratitude to UNESCO, & in particular to the Director General, for organizing this event to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Auroville. It is indeed a befitting tribute to the vision & ideals of Auroville as a World Centre for Human Unity. Auroville, in its essence, attempts to bridge the past & the future, by taking advantage of all discoveries form without & from within, to develop an enlightened society for the world of tomorrow.
In this context, I would like to quote a verse from one of our ancient scriptures, the Atharva Veda:-
“Born on the same planet
Covered by the same skies
Gazing at the same stars
Breathing the same air
We must learn to happily progress together
Or miserably perish together
For Man can live individually
But can survive only collectively”.
In consonance with this Vedic thought, Auroville was founded by “The Mother”, a French disciple of Sri Aurobindo, on 28th February, 1968, when youth from 121 countries & 23 Indian States placed a handful of earth from their homelands in the lotus-shaped urn, symbolizing the creation of a city that was conceived as “a site of material & spiritual researches for a living embodiment of an actual human unity.”
One of the aims of Auroville is to bring together in close juxtaposition the values and ideals of different civilizations and cultures and these are in close alignment with UNESCO’s ideals. The General Assembly of UNESCO has unanimously passed in 1966, 1968, 1970 and 1983 resolutions of support to Auroville, inviting member states and international non-governmental organizations to participate in the development of Auroville as an International Cultural Township designed to bring together the values of different cultures and civilizations in a harmonious environment with integrated living standards which correspond to man’s physical and spiritual needs. Auroville has been lauded as one of the special places on earth where people are trying to return to a spiritual basis of life and to provide a model for appropriate planetary consciousness.
The Government of India took over Auroville in 1980 and in the year 1988, the Parliament of India passed the Auroville Foundation Act. 1988 for better management and further development of Auroville in accordance with its original charter, and the Department of Secondary & Higher Education, is the nodal administrative department, providing assistance to Auroville.
Auroville has made steady progress over these years in accordance with the ideals of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo and presently is home to 1671 persons, of whom more than 1100 are nationals from 35 countries other than India. Apart form these, more than 4000 persons form neighbouring villages are employed by various commercial units, schools, offices, farms, forests, construction sites and homes in Auroville.
The Auroville Universal Township envisaged by the Mother is one of the unique examples of manifestation of human unity in diversity. The township, founded on a barren plateau devoid of even a blade of grass in 1968, has become a green area shaded with a variety of trees and plants. The architectural designs, appropriate building technologies, conservation approach, rainwater harvesting, re-use and recycling of water resources, solid waste management, land re-generation, community participation are some of the areas where innovative models and techniques have been developed and adapted in the township.
I am happy to share with you the fact that we have increased the Plan outlay for Auroville under the 10th Five Year Plan by adding a new Component for Sri Aurobindo International Institute for Educational Research, (SAIIER) to the already existing activities for which we were giving support. The 9th Plan outlay was Rupees twenty-five million and this has been increased to Rupees One hundred and fifty million now, denoting a six-fold increase. The Government is also funding Auroville through its other programmes.
We envisage that the Sri Aurobindo International Institute for Educational Research (SAIIER), which is being now supported by us, would bring about a change in the educational system in India through the implementation of Sri Aurobindo’s vision of integral education. This involves a change in the aims of education, a new perception in the role of the teacher, experiments with evolving new curriculum & new methods of teaching & learning, thus, serving as a real life laboratory for the country’s education system.
Auroville has already brought a transformation in the areas surrounding it by adopting people friendly technologies. Eco-friendly farms which do not destroy the Mother earth, income generating industrial units which do not pollute the air and many such innovations which point towards an India of the future, which is prosperous, in-tune with nature, does not sacrifice its collective goals and which acts as an inspiration for the new generation.
Towards this aim, we are here to support Auroville as partners in progress, as facilitators rather than as mere administrators, and would like to contribute towards the progress of Auroville to serve as a beacon of hope, not only for the future of India, but also for Humanity as a whole.
Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
The President started his speech saying,
“Friends, I have come as a pilgrim to this place, Auroville, and why I say pilgrim is because you have a mission bigger than mine; the mission you are having is larger than that of any individual. It is a vision which came from Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, and naturally it is a very big mission.” He also said, “Most of you in Auroville, you are shaped as better human beings.” When asked by a child earlier in the day, “How do you consider yourself? As a scientist? As a Muslim? As a Tamilian? ” he replied to the kid that what matters most in life is to be a better human being.